Blog Article 


Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Life doesn’t always go our way. We can strategically and deliberately create and engineer plans with the best intentions. Then, external forces can change the environment. When those changes come, we’re responsible for how we respond. We can complain with the “it’s-not-my-fault-mentality,” or we can adjust and succeed despite the changes we encounter.

In August 2012, authorities let me transfer from the federal prison in Atwater, California, to a halfway house in San Francisco. I had 9,135 days of prison behind me. I had another year to serve in the halfway house. 

After 9,500 days of living as a prisoner, I would transition to Supervised Release for seven years, then Parole for 19 years, then to Special Parole for another three years. 

Those were the complications that followed the bad decisions of my youth.

My plans at the start of my sentence helped me climb through the journey. Decisions I made along the way helped me to build confidence and strength. 

I felt ready to grow and prosper. 

By my late 40s, I had spent more of my life in prison than in society. I had a master’s degree, publishing credentials, and an insane work ethic. As my wife drove me to the halfway house, I reiterated a goal I’d been telling her. 

“Within five years, we’ll have our first million dollars in assets.”

If I had not sown the seeds early, such a goal would be ridiculous.

  • I’d never held a job.
  • My credit score was 0-0-0.
  • Since neither the internet nor smartphones existed before my imprisonment, I’d never sent an email or watched a YouTube video. 

Nevertheless, the early preparations endowed me with the confidence to succeed. Within my first month in the halfway house, I made my first real estate acquisition. 

How? I used the same skills and commitment that powered me through prison. 

We create our opportunities with the stories we tell. Our experiences along the journey reveal our stories more than our words. The more deliberately we plan, the more likely we succeed.

Within two years, I had the first $1 million in assets. Within five years, I had $5 million in assets and $3 million in equity. Then, external forces brought an abrupt change to my circumstances. 

I invested $1.4 million to become a limited partner in an overseas land development project. That investment represented less than 30% of the assets that I’d acquired since being released from prison. I planned to build a business I would call “Prison to Paradise” and convert my investment into a project that would yield more than $10 million. 

Then, three months after I made the $1.4 million investment, the Federal Trade Commission launched an unexpected lawsuit against the general partner of the real estate development. That lawsuit led to an asset freeze. In 2020, that lawsuit led to a settlement. It cost me $5 million in assets and $3 million in equity.

Despite the plans I made, external forces intervened. I had to adjust. 

I began rebuilding by following the same principles that carried me through the journey.

Complaining or living as a victim does not yield results. Adjusting to changed circumstances helps us recover and grow with new plans and new execution strategies.

  • What unexpected changes have you encountered?
  • In what ways did you adjust to the change?
  • In what ways does your adjustment to changed circumstances reveal your commitment to succeed?
  • In what ways does your response to changed circumstances align with the way that you define success?
  • What strategy helps you recalibrate after a reversal of fortune?

Word of the day: abrupt / Define abrupt:

Use abrupt in a sentence:

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *